War Stories

Anyone who spent any time in the Corps has at least one story to tell. Here is your opportunity to tell yours. I have had several members ask if we could have a spot to post some of our favorite War Stories. If you have a story you would like to share, email it to me and I will post it here. It doesn’t even have to be a war story as long as it has to do with your time in the Corps and could be of interest to our readers. Just remember, BS walks.
Donnie Shearer’s award winning shot, “Best Combat Photograph 1968”, of Cpl. Rufus Patterson throwing a grenade, Sgt. Anthony Hartman sitting and PFC. Tony Carter ( who was killed a short time later) in the background,throwing a grenade. This is the beginning of an intense fire fight, 1st. Bn. 3rd. Marines, Gio Linh, 1968 Operation Thor. Visit Gunny Shearer’s web site at http://donnieshearer.photos.military.com for more photos of 1/3 in action.

Submitted by: Phil Jones D/1/3 and C/1/3 1967-68

Email: jones@kamakuranet.ne.jp 

Date: 12-24-2013

Epilogue to “Double Time Duffy”

I was recently introduced to onethreemarines.com website and read a superbly written “war story” titled “Double Time Duffy” by Joseph Giannini. That story brought back memories which are in a sense an epilogue to Giannini’s essay. While I did not know Major Duffy, I clearly remember the night the major’s remains were brought back to the Okinawa where I was waiting for transportation into the A3 firebase. The weather was very bad at that time and helicopters were only flying essential missions, such as transporting KIAs and WIAs. So I sat out on the ship for several days until the 1/3 battalion commander raised enough hell to get me helicoptered into A3. It was an erie   ride as I was the only passenger on the big CH-53. The loadmaster had previously warned me that the chopper would not touch down because of incoming and he followed this with a screamed “Get the fuck out Lieutenant!” I dropped a couple of meters into mud that was at least knee deep. For a few seconds, until I heard the SPLAT! SPLAT! SPLAT! of incoming rounds being sucked into the mud, I recall thinking how muddy I would be when I reported in at the command bunker, a few meters away. But then I realized that all this mud was probably saving my life by absorbing the shrapnel from the incoming rounds before it hit me. I dived into the command bunker and rolled under a table. There was another person already under the table who said matter-of-factly “You must be Lt. Jones.”. I said “Yes Sir! Lt. Jones reporting for duty sir!” The other person under the table was Lt. Col. Goodaile who pointed over to the entrance on the opposite side of the bunker and said “That is where Major Duffy was sitting when he was killed by shrapnel the other day.”

Philip A. Jones

1st Lt. USMCR Retired

TBS 6-67 .              

Submitted by: Joseph Giannini B/1/3 1967

Email: giannini43@yahoo.com 

Date: Jun 01, 2010 (Late Entry-oops)

DOUBLE TIME DUFFY
  by Joseph Giannini

I first met Captain Edward Patrick Duffy in October 1966.  He was my Company Commander at Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Quantico Virginia.  We nicknamed him Double Time Duffy because he double-timed us everywhere.  He designated me and another Marine as Company Guides.  The two of us stayed approximately 50 yards in front of the Company at all times.  I can’t recall how many times I looked back at Captain Duffy to see if he’d give the order for normal time.

Physical fitness and training were an important part of OCS.  If a candidate failed the physical part he would be washed out. During P.T. (Physical Training) the candidates dressed in gray sweats, black watch caps and black combat boots.  Meanwhile Captain Duffy dressed in green sweats, green watch cap and black combat boots.  Because of this I secretly gave him another name: The Green Hornet.  One day on an off- base pass I came upon some Green Hornet stick-ons.  Great. I went back to the base with at least a dozen. That night when I thought everyone was asleep in our barracks, I snuck down to Captain Duffy’s office.  I plastered the stickers all over his office door window.  I told no one and was never found out.  Cool.

One cold day on a company hike we came up to a wide stream and I looked back at Captain Duffy.  He signaled for us to move across.  The other Guide and I started across and I quickly realized the stream was about chest-deep and the current was moving very fast.  I told the other Guide to keep going and waited in midstream to give a hand to Captain Duffy.  He approached somewhat unsteady but motioned me off.  I turned for the opposite shore, looked back.  He was struggling in the current.  I emerged on the other side of the stream soaked and feeling about 30 pounds heavier.  I stood on the shore watching Captain Duffy approach.  Surely this would be the first time he would order normal time. He caught my stare and pumped his right arm two times.  Double Time!

In December 1966 I graduated from OCS. I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps and could run a marathon.  I said good-bye to Captain Duffy and I went off to The Basic School.  I graduated in June 1967.  Left, on leave, with Orders for Vietnam.  Got married on June 12th and left  on June 24th, 1967.  I stopped over on Okinawa and was held there for about two weeks.

Finally I’m on my way out.  Waiting in an airport lounge for a typhoon to let up.  I spot  Double Time Duffy sitting at the bar, now a major.  I approach and say hello.  He is upset and starts complaining about not having orders for Vietnam and being stuck on Okinawa. “Lieutenant, I’m a career officer.  I need line experience.  I’ve got to get In Country.”

I really don’t know how to respond.  He is in no mood to make small talk so I push off to wait alone for my flight.  I leave, he is still drinking alone.

In early December 1967 I’m leading a rifle platoon, Bravo Three.  Our Battalion, 1/3, is ordered to occupy a hill designated Alpha 3.  It’s just below the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone), aka the Dead Marine Zone.  Our mission is to defend this hill and the Seabees building a Combat Base on it.  It’s the monsoon season, cold and windy with torrential rains.  We move on to The Hill under the cover of darkness.  We are cold, soaked to the bone and miserable.  No one can get any sleep.  This soon-to-be Combat Base will be part of the McNamara Line.  A string of bases extending from the China Sea to the Laotian border.  The concept is that the defenders will use electronic surveillance to detect the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) coming across the DMZ, then intercept them.  It won’t work.

The night passes without any casualties.  The next day one of our patrols is hit with a command-detonated claymore and suffers several WIA’s and two KIA’s.  The NVA can plainly see us from their camouflaged positions in the surrounding jungle.  The incoming starts: artillery, mortars, recoilless rifles and, most deadly, rockets with delayed detonating fuses.  We dig deeper but surviving is just plain luck.  This Hill could be a smaller Dien Ben Phu.  A 1954 battle in the French Indo China War in which the Viet Min, now the NVA, surrounded 15,000 French soldiers and decisively defeated them.  The incoming is continuously intermittent.  Leaving your hooch can be a deadly decision.  We become giant filthy rodents fearful of moving about.

On December 7, 1967 the sun comes out. I look up and out, it’s quiet.  I wait, no incoming, and cautiously come out.  It’s still quiet, I begin to stretch and look around.  Suddenly two short whistles go right over my head.  The rounds explode in my position just where the FNGs (Fucking New Guys) are standing.  We have been suckered! I dive for cover. Incoming rounds are falling right on my platoon position but mostly on my previous platoon, Bravo One.  “Corpsman up, Corpsman up.”  I push down my fear and run to the two new guys.  One has been hit in the right hind area.  A huge piece of flesh is gone leaving a gaping red crater and his leg dislodged from his hip.  The other has lost his right arm severed at the elbow.  I find the arm and we put it in his poncho and both men are carried toward the Field Hospital. Lucky bastards.  Only two days In Country and they’re going back to the World.  Million Dollar Wounds.

I run over to Bravo One’s position.  Their bunkers have taken several direct hits and there are many casualties, including their Platoon Leader Second Lieutenant Grosshans.  This was my first command and I know them all.  They start calling out to me, asking “How bad is it Lieutenant?” meaning how bad am I hit.  It’s terrible, half of Bravo One has been ripped apart.  Many have multiple shrapnel wounds.  But I assure each one, “It’s OK and you’re out of here.”  Each wounded Marine is laid in his own poncho and carried away.  I don’t hide my tears.  Out here, men cry.  This is the second time, I hope the last time.

Our Battalion gets a new Executive Officer, Major Edward Patrick Duffy.  Double Time finally got his wish.  He’s In Country with a line battalion.  I won’t welcome him, why risk leaving my hooch?  Damn, he joined us at a really bad time and place.  At least he survived coming aboard, some haven’t.  Our LZ is a killing zone.

On December 9, 1967 I get called up to Battalion.  I carefully cover the 50 or so yards.  I enter the bunker and see Major Duffy sitting in the entranceway reading a letter.  We say hello, but he’s more interested in the letter.  I understand and move on into the Command Post.  On my way out he is still sitting there, now writing a letter.  He looks up as I pass  and I realize that he has bunked down in the entranceway.  Not a good choice.  I get back to my bunker just in time as a barrage of rockets slams into the hill.  I put my face into my private corner.  The earth shakes and I bounce.  Death is taking a walk and I don’t want to catch his stare.  I’m terrorized and I start laughing.  Finally the incoming stops.  I climb out of the bunker and look around.  My guys are OK but there is smoke rising from the Battalion Command Post.  I know that Double Time has stopped.  Later I watch as his body, wrapped in his poncho, is put on a chopper.  It rises, amidst swirling dust.  I stand straight, pump my right arm two times and salute.

Submitted by: Robert Potter A/1/3 1966-67

Email: DontBluesMe@gmail.com 

Date: Jun 03, 2011

“Forward, Ditty Bop”

At boot camp MCRD Paris Island one day the Drill Instructor marched us a little too close to the shopping area they have there for the families.  While marching through the guys all started rubber necking the civilian girls who were shopping and walking around.


Our DI, Sgt Kurtz of course noticed and halted us right there in front of them.

“Okay” he said, “I get it, you all don’t want to look square in front of the ladies so let’s see what we can do to make you look more cool”. And with that he went around and pulled shirt tails out, turned up collars, rolled up some of the guys cuffs, turned covers sideways on some, backwards on others, flipped up the brim on a few more and when he had us looking sufficiently silly proceeded to give us the command “Forward, Ditty Bop”.

Of course then we snapped to and started to march in the most military way possible for us but Sgt Kurtz wasn’t buying it. “No no no” he shouted at us. “I don’t want anyone marching like they are in the Marine Corps, what’s the matter, you forgot how you used to walk back in the city?  We gotta look cool here in front of the ladies, like this” and he walked in an exaggerated ‘ditty bop’ way that made us all stifle a laugh.  “So when I give the word I don’t want to see anyone screwing up our chances with the ladies”.



And so when he again gave the command “Forward, Ditty Bop”, we did and it was the silliest looking platoon you ever saw as we ‘ditty bopped’ our way out of town. The girls and townspeople all had a good laugh over it too.

But of course you know what happened to us once we were out of town.  “Give me many, many of them.”    

(Robert C Potter)

Submitted by: Ivan Hiestand C/1/3 1967

Email: ihiestand@yahoo.com 

Date: Jan 19, 2011

Per Ivan, this Poem was written three days prior to being WIA. He dedicated this Poem as a tribute to his Buddy Bill BURGOON-KIA and the rest of those HEROES and BRAVE MEN whose faces are forever etched into Our Hearts and Souls.

All In Vain

It’s quiet tonight on this lonely hill,

the guns are hushed and the men lie still.

There lingers a silence beyond all compare,

The smoke from the battle looms in the air.

Today they fought, these daring young few,

Today they died for me and for you.

They were your sons, Americans all,

From all races and creeds, they answered the call.

And what may I ask, did you do today?

You rioted and protested to get your way!

You burned your draft cards to prove us wrong,

You shouted protests to a doubting throng.

You murdered to silence an innocent voice,

Yet here men died, for they had no choice.

For these heroes it’s over, there is no more pain.

Let us all pray to God that it wasn’t in vain.

Pfc. Ivan G. Hiestand

Charlie Company

1st Battalion, Third Marines

Vietnam , September 13, 1967

Submitted by: Joseph Guevara A/1/3 67-68

Email: usarmycsm1927@yahoo.com
Date:
Apr 24, 2010

MARINES OF FREEDOM

WRITTEN BY: JOSEPH M. GUEVARA (FORMER MARINES)

DEDICATED TO ALL MARINES  

MARINES OF FREEDOM

MY MARINES

YOU ARE THE BEST OF THE BEST

YOU HAVE ALWAYS PUT YOUR LIVES UP FRONT

SO MANY TIMES

IN THE NAME OF FREEDOM

HERE AND ABROAD

AROUND THE CLOCK

YET YOU SELDOM ASK FOR MUCH

BUT OUR LOVE

AND OUR PRAYERS, AND SUPPORT

MARINES OF FREEDOM

MY MARINES

PROUDLY SERVING OUR COUNTRY WITH PRIDE

HERE AND ABROAD

AROUND THE CLOCK

ON LAND, AIR, AND SEA

YET YOU SELDOM ASK FOR MUCH

BUT OUR LOVE

AND OUR PRAYERS, AND SUPPORT

MY MARINES

WHEN OUR COUNTRY IS CHALLENGE

YOU ARE THE FIRST ONE TO RESPOND

AND YOU STAYED UNTIL THE JOB IS DONE

YET YOU SELDOM ASK FOR MUCH

BUT OUR LOVE

AND OUR PRAYERS, AND SUPPORT

AND SO MANY TIMES ABROAD

YOU HAVE REPRESENT US WITH PRIDE

AND MADE US SO PROUD OF YOU

YET YOU SELDOM ASK FOR MUCH

BUT OUR LOVE

AND OUR PRAYERS, AND SUPPORT

MARINES OF FREEDOM

MY MARINES

YOU HAVE MADE OUR COUNTRY SAFE

STRONG, AND FREE

THANK YOU FOR YOUR GREAT SERVICES

THANK YOU, THANK YOU

MY MARINES, THANK YOU

AND WELCOME HOME, WELCOME HOME

MY MARINES, MY MARINES

WELCOME HOME, WELCOME HOME

FOR MY BABY AND ME  

WRITTEN BY: JOSEPH M. GUEVARA (FORMER MARINES)

DEDICATED TO ALL VETERANS 

MY COMBAT TOUR IS OVER

AND I WAVE GOOD-BYE TO MY FRIENDS

AND BOARD THE FREEDOM BIRD FOR HOME

HOME SWEET HOME AGAIN, FOR MY BABY AND ME

I SAT BY THE WINDOW                          

AS WE FLEW INTO THE SKY               

THINKING OF YOU                                   

HOME SWEET HOME AGAIN, FOR MY BABY AND ME

WHILE WE WERE UP IN THE SKY

WE GAVE THANKS TO THE GOOD LORD

FOR HOME SWEET HOME AGAIN, FOR MY BABY AND ME

FOND MEMORIES OF HOME

HAS KEPT ME AWAKE, AS WE FLEW OVER THE SEA

WITH SO MANY HOURS IN THE SKY, AND BEFORE TOO LONG

WE HEARD OUR CAPTAIN SAY

WE ARE NOW IN THE USA

WELCOME HOME SOLDIERS WELCOME HOME

HOME SWEET HOME AGAIN, FOR MY BABY AND ME

OUR PLANE HAS JUST LANDED           

CHEERS IN OUR HEARTS                       

HOME SWEET HOME AGAIN, FOR MY BABY AND ME                         

MY HEART IS FILL WITH JOY               

MY EYES IS FILL WITH TEARS            

TO BE HOME, HOME SWEET HOME AGAIN, FOR MY BABY AND ME

WIPE THE TEARS FROM YOUR EYES

WIPE THE TEARS FROM MY EYES

NO MORE TEARS, NO MORE CRYING, FOR MY BABY AND ME

YOUR PRAYERS, LOVE AND SUPPORT

HAS BEEN ANSWERED, YOU GAVE ME THE COURAGE

TO CARRY ON WITH LOVE, FOR MY BABY AND ME

SO HOLD ME TIGHT WITH LOVE, AND NEVER LET ME GO

AND FILL MY HEART WITH LOVE AGAIN, FOR MY BABY AND ME

I DID MY JOB FOR MY COUNTRY

THAT I AM, ASK TO DO, AND NOW THAT I AM HOME

NO MORE WAR, NO MORE FIGHTING, FOR MY BABY AND ME

SO HOLD ME TIGHT WITH LOVE, AND NEVER LET ME GO

AND FILL MY HEART WITH LOVE AGAIN

FOR MY BABY AND ME, FOR MY BABY AND ME

FORTUNE FAVORS THE BRAVE

DEDICATED TO THE THIRD MARINES

WRITTEN BY: JOSEPH M. GUEVARA (FORMER MARINE)

SERVED WITH THE THIRD MARINES, VIETNAM

AS I LOOK INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL

FORTUNE FAVORS THE BRAVE

OF THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THIRD MARINES

THE THIRD MARINES HAS BEEN TESTED

SO MANY TIMES

IN SO MANY CAMPAIGNS

AND ALWAYS STOOD UP

WITH HONOR AND PRIDE

AND MADE US SO PROUD

OF THE MEN AND WOMEN

OF THE THIRD MARINES

FORTUNE FAVORS THE BRAVE

OF THE THIRD MARINES

AND ALWAYS WILL BE

I AM PROUD TO SERVED IN THE THIRD MARINES

IF I HAVE DO IT AGAIN

I WILL CHOOSE THE THIRD MARINES

FOR THE BRAVE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE THIRD MARINES

I SALUTE YOU WITH PRIDE

THAT WILL NEVER DIE

AND WHERE EVER YOU GO

OUR LOVE, PRAYERS AND SUPPORT

WILL ALWAYS BE THERE FOR YOU

FORTUNE FAVORS THE BRAVE

OF THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THIRD MARINES

Submitted by: Joseph Guevara A/1/3 67-68

Email: usarmycsm1927@yahoo.com

Date: Apr 23, 2010

BROTHERHOOD OF VETS

WRITTEN BY: JOSEPH M. GUEVARA (FORMER MARINE)

BROTHERHOOD OF VETS

WE SERVED OUR COUNTRY WITH PRIDE

THOUGH THE PAIN REFUSES TO SUBSIDE

IN MEMORIES WE CANNOT FORGET

THAT’S THE WORLD OF A VIETNAM VET

WE CARRY ON, BECAUSE WE MUST

IN CIRCUMSTANCES NOT ALWAYS JUST

THANK GOD WE HAVE OUR BROTHER

WHO SUPPORT US, LIKE NO OTHERS!

WE’RE BEEN DENIED, WE’RE LIVED AND DIED

IN A WAR NO  SERVICEMAN FORGETS

WE’RE MOVED FORWARD, PAST THAT BUMPY RIDE

WE MAKE UP A BROTHERHOOD OF VETS

DEDICATED TO ALL VETS 

Submitted by: William J. DOYLE C/1/3 Recon 67-68

Email: wdoyle@saybrook-associates.com 

Date: Feb 01, 2009

                                                                                Boot Camp – PI MEMORIES

“Get your sorry @$%’s off this bus and hit those %&@#ing yellow footprints, you maggots!  I don’t know about you but I was not ready for that when I got to Paris Island.  During my tour I was called anything but Marine for, as we all know now, that term is not for recruits.  So I relegated myself to the fact that I would be called girl, maggot, and any other name my three Drill Instructors deemed fit.

 About a week before graduation we all looked very different from when we arrived on the Island.  All of us were “adjusted” in some form or another.  I was always in the front of the chow line and the cooks were told to pack on the food for I was a “feather merchant” and needed to gain weight, while others were at the back and could only eat “rabbit food” so that they could lose weight.  With the extra food and the daily workout I gained 25 lbs of lean fighting weight.  As a result all of the clothes that I was issued on that fateful night many weeks before no longer fit as they should.  Our junior DI was given the task of taking us over to the clothing issue center for alterations to bring the uniforms into line with our increase or decrease, as the case would be.  When it was my turn to go, I obediently followed the DI with my fatigues on and in the proper order.  I was, by this time, use to walking so as not to attract any more attention then necessary, so my head was down and I was following the DI closely behind.  When we went into the building there was a new batch of recruits standing around the big table removing there civvies and getting ready for the long journey that I was about to complete.  As the DI neared the mass of confused boys, they parted like the red sea did for Moses and promptly closed again leaving me on the other side.  My DI turned around and saw this.  He, in his usual booming voice, shouted to the mass of recruits “Get out of the way of that MARINE.”  I promptly turned around to see whom he was referring to and suddenly realized he meant me.  It was at that time I first realized the amazing feeling that would accompany being called Marine.  My back straightened my head came up, my shoulders went back and when the seas parted for me I strode through them as if I was 10 feet tall.  To this day I have not lost that feeling about being a Marine. 

Submitted by: Roger WARREN D/1/3 1964-65

Email: pointman13@ctcn.net

Date: Jul 22, 2008

1st Battalion 3rd Marines

EARLY Months in VIETNAM 8Mar65 to 1Sep65

Our battalion’s deployment to Vietnam came in part on 23 Jan 65 when Delta Co., 1/3 (Rein), arrived at Da Nang 

Airfield from Kadena AFB, Okinawa, to serve as security detachment for the “SHUFLY” helicopter operations headquartered there and to secure the airfield from enemy attack. Delta worked dilgently fortifying the facilities, creating sandbag walls, building bunkers, digging trench lines, while manning nighttime positions and highway checkpoints. For 43 days they were, in fact, the first and only  Marine combat troops deployed to Vietnam.

While at the airfield, Delta Co. was privy to history in the making as many of these Marines witnessed the first two bombing attacks launched in part from the airfield against North Vietnam. These attacks were code-named Flaming Dart I and II and served as a prelude to Operation Rolling Thunder which went on for much of the war. During Flaming Dart I, 43 planes representing the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and South Vietnamese Air Force took off from the airfield heading north, some less than a minute apart.

On 08 Mar 65, Marines of 3/9 landed at Red Beach, just north of Da Nang. At the same time, C-130s were landing elements of 1/3(commanded by LtCol. Herbert J. Bain) and their equipment at the airfield. When the airfield became too glutted with vehicles and equipment, the air lift was briefly suspended, and began again in earnest on 10 Mar 65, with the balance of 1/3 and their equipment arriving that day. Our battalion, now part of the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, remained at the airfield and expanded our perimeter duties to include the whole air base except the south end, which was protected by ARVN troops. The Marines of 3/9 took up positions atop Hills 327 and 268 and the area around the base of the hills.

After several accidental shootings, the last one costing the life of a Marine, 1/3 replaced 3/9 in position on the hills beginning 07 Apr 65 when Charlie Co. moved atop Hill 268, proceeded by Delta Co. which took up positions on Hill 327. Bravo Co. was located with Battalion HQ at the foot of Hill 327 and Alpha Co. was moved north towards the Nam O Bridge.

Over the next 4 months our battalion participated in many operations west and southwest of Da Nang, including the first foray by U.S. Forces into Happy Valley on 19 May 1965, a Viet Cong stronghold 13 miles from Da Nang. During several company-sized opertions launched into the valley, two major enemy basecamps and numerous way stations were destroyed, considerable equipment and 100s of valuable documents were recovered, more than a dozen VC were killed, and our battalion suffered its first KIA there, Pfc. Robert S. Fernandez of Delta Company. 

Our battalion also participated in a one day operation involving three of our companies (Alpha, Charlie and Delta) near Mt. Ba Na, along the Laotion border, suffering several Marines wounded by enemy mortar fire.

 Beginning June 03, 1965, 1/3 launched “Operation Breakout I” to dislodge VC cadre from villages along the Song Yen River, with particular attention given to the village of Hoi Vuc. In the first 24 hours of the operation 11 Marines were hit by small arms fire with 3 dying from their wounds. This operation continued into August 1965. The trail running along side this river was later commonly referred to as Purple Heart Trail.

On 28 Aug 65, 1/3 was relieved in position by Marines of 1/1 and after two days of indocrtrination we boarded the USS Lenawee (APA-195) 01 Sep 65 in Da Nang Harbor and set sail for the Philipines the next day.

Our battalion lost 43 Marines killed in the war and 119 Purple Heart Medals awarded. We also had a Navy Cross awarded posthumously to Cpl. Brian J. Gauthier of Alpha Co., over a dozen Silver Star Medals, almost 30 Bronze Star Medals and numerous Navy Commendation Medals distributed amongst our ranks. We participated in the first Marine helicopter assault in the war; the first operation involving tanks; the first night operation; and our Delta Co. became the first Marine unit to come under enemy mortar attack in the war, this on May 20, 1965.

Submitted by: Doc Thomas PHILLIPS B/1/3 FMF

Email: DocTap@Cox.net

Date: Jul 20, 2008

 FORGOTTEN HERO

  July ’66, Operation Macon.  At least I think it was Macon.  That summer we sort of lost track of the names and places.  After the third day of humping around the villages in a well organized VC valley I pulled the first watch.  Just as the sun set we heard a muffled thump and that most unwelcomed cry from the 60 mortar pit, “Short Round!”. It landed about 150 meters  to my right and obviously hit something cause a great commotion started and the call of “Corpsman Up” was passed along the line.  With my heart beating faster than I thought it could, in the half light of dusk I ran in the direction of the smoke and noise.  The round had hit the rear of a 90 tank. A case of C-4 was strapped to the back and was beginning to smolder and fill the air with white smoke.  Atop the tank looking down into the hatch was a Corpsman named Waters from Delta company.  He yelled that there was a wounded Marine in the tank and he was going in to get him.  I grabbed an e-tool and pried the burning case off the tank.  Waters called for me to pull as he lifted the Marine up through the hatch.  Somehow we got him to the ground and started to work on him.  I think his name was Tom Smith.  He had a shrapnel wound in his back by the kidney and was going into shock.  Waters and I started an IV and patched him up.  A medivac was on the way.

When I finally stood up next to Waters, I realized that he was a short, skinny black guy that didn’t weigh any more than 120 pounds.  But he lifted that six foot Marine though the hatch and caught him when I threw him down from the tank.  Weeks later we were on another operation in the DMZ.  Waters and I were called back to the forward HQ to answer some questions concerning that night.  Waters leaned over and said to me “they’re going to give us a medal”.  ” I doubt it” I replied.  Sure enough it seems that Smitty lost his gold watch along the way and he thought maybe we took it.  You could have knocked me over with a dirty look.  Waters swore like a sailor.  Well I never found out Waters’ first name and apparently Smitty was just worried about his watch, but to this day my hero is a short, skinny little black guy who showed me what being a Corpsman was all about.

Submitted by: Don Bumgarner C-1-3

Email: dbumc13usmc@verizon.net

Date: Aug 5, 06

Operation Buffalo

            On July 3rd, B/1/9 had gotten in trouble up at DMZ, and we went in on operation BEAR CLAW/BUFFALO(Quang Tri Province-area around Con Thien).  It was a TUFF OPERATION with lots of ROCKETS and ARTY INCOMING. On the third day, we took a 250 round barrage, lucky we were dug in good. Actually the Ground was HARD, and  I was with a Marine named “Johnson”, we barely dug a hole that covered us both on our sides facing each other head to feet of each other. Mortars provided interperimeter guard for the Captain and CP. I was in the hole with Johnson , and the arty and rockets were close with shrapnel flying over our heads. The dust would settle, and Johnson would light up a cigarette as he was a smoker, I wasn’t at that time. He had a hell of a time lighting up with his SHAKY HANDS. Will always remember him barely getting his cigarette lit. I always figured my head to the north, just in case a round landed in the hole, and hoped for the BEST. I thought maybe I would survive, but didn’t know about Johnson. After one barrage of rounds, close again, and the dust settling I looked out and saw a Marine about 30-40 feet away, he jumped  up off the ground, pulled up his pants, and rushed back to his hole. He apparently was responding to the call of nature-taking a dump, out by himself without his Helmet or Flack Vest, when the rounds started landing. Brought a smile to my face. A couple days later, we lost a S/SGT and SGT when the S/SGT was hit by a round. The S/SGT Malloy had been a DI at boot camp to my sister platoon (2219, I think). He and SGT Pike, both were good guys. B/1/9 I think earned the title “THE WALKING DEAD”, from this operation, as I heard 15 men from the company made it out with half of em wounded. I remember there were pictures of Tanks with KIA bodies stacked up on em from this operation. I’m sure anyone that was there, REMEMBERS Operation Buffalo.

Submitted by: Bruce Jones D/1/3

Email: BJones1@loomisfargo.com

Date:3/27/06

January 26, 1966

January 26,1966 was my first day on the hill with D/1/3.  I still have no idea geographically where “the hill” as I call it was located. Some have told me it was/is NW of Danang others SW of Danang. D company would put out four man teams, “snatch patrols/ outposts” pretty much every day. The four marines who were killed On January 26, 1966 were I believe from Delta, got complacent, and were pretty badly fucked up. There’s a ton I don’t remember.  I don’t remember the two women being part of this but am not surprised…it took a few months but eventually I didn’t trust any of the locals.   Pissed off that it happened, this tragedy made us take the snatch patrol very seriously! 

The snatch patrols were hit at least twice while we were out on operations.  Typically an Army unit would come in and man the hill when we were off it.  All four of one replacement “Snatch Patrol” were KIA one time and as memory serves me a couple more another time.  The local VC just knew whom they could get to and whom they couldn’t.  “Wish I knew then what I know now!” 

Also there were two Amtrac’s that hit mines.  After the first one blew, the second Amtrac moved north and hit another mine. Again, we were out on a snatch patrol about 50 meters from the mine when they blew. The Amtrac’s had no idea we were there. Those were the worst wounds I ever saw….  Terrible burns….  I always thought it was Bravo Company though. Company C was a surprise.   

As a side note: one of the marines who was with me the day the Amtrac’s went up was wounded in the “Wild Pig Attack.”  The hog hooked him pushing a tusk into one knee. In an attempt to shoot the pig off of the man, another Marine accidentally shot the same guy in the other knee. He was a character; don’t remember his name, always clowning around but a good Marine.  He was put him in charge of my team while I went on R&R. We had walked that area a dozen times and never saw anything like that.  They said the VC had corralled these animals and released the pissed of porkers when the squad made contact. Not sure that was the case but sounds better than the alternative…”sorry sir, I fucked up!” He wasn’t supposed to be out there then, he volunteered. My section leader said he was spread-eagled from the waist down in a wishbone body cast.  I was so pissed off at him leaving my team to go walk in the woods and passed on going back to see him.  Wish now I had. <laughing> He was hooked/shot the night before I got back.  I sent a picture of him to Ray Kelly last year. I never knew Ray, he joined the company when in Khe Sanh. 

Just a few memories were brought back by this timetable.  Is there one that is more detailed?  I remember a few incidents I was involved in that were pretty interesting but don’t see them listed.  When I have time I’ll write those down and send your direction.  

Submitted by: Don Bumgarner C-1-3

Email: dbumc13usmc@verizon.net

Date:

May 1967

I remember on our fifth night of the operation(May 2nd), as we were digging in for the night(HARD digging too) on a hill top, a group making a WATER RUN was out, and it was getting dusk. All of a sudden RED Tracers were flying by and exploding(57 recoiless rounds), and we all got down. I saw bullets hitting all about us, but nothing real close. Being in mortars, we were up the hill from the lines. Kelly(Gerald Kelly) and I were in a hole together, but I was outside the hole. Bullets started coming up the hill towards us, and Kelly got hit in his ankle. A moment later a bullet hit next to my right side, kicked up dirt, and SCARED me big time. I asked Kelly if there was room in the hole for me, he said YES, and I was there next to him. The enemy apparently saw my movement, and put alot of fire into that area. Bullets were zinging by and kicking dirt on both Kelly and me. Then the fire subsidded a bit, I yelled for a Corpsman for Kelly.

That was an AMBUSH I shall never forget. We spent the rest of the night in a Zig Zag Trench up the hill, where I had delivered some mortar rounds, and saw my first DEAD Marine the next morning. Kelly had been Medivaced and presummed He had returned home, never saw him again during my tour in Nam.

Submitted by: Percy Avalos C/1/3

Email: percy@softcom.net

Date:

September 1967

The following event is derived from memories and a few photographs I took while assigned to the 1st Platoon of “Charley” Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, “Special Landing Force-Alpha”. Operation “BEACON POINT” was conducted in the Quang Tri/Thua Thien Provinces, Republic of Vietnam, from 01Sep67 to 05Sep67. We lifted off the USS Okinawa-LPH-3, aboard CH-34’s Helicopters landing in our area of operation sometime in the morning of 01Sep67. 1st Platoon was located in an area surrounded by the usual dry rice paddies, bamboo type foliage, and a few Hamlets. 1st platoon had it’s “Gun-team”, 3.5 Rockets, Communications, and Corpsmen’s. One of the two Corpsman assigned to us was on his first combat operation, and would have to use ALL his medical skills to Save Lives, in the next couple of days. After a brief halt in our platoon area, we received the word to “Mount-Up”, and move out assuming our position on the left flank of “Charley” Company.

Approximately an hour or so into our “SWEEP”, we noticed a dirt berm, (used to separate rice fields), about two to three feet high with a tree-line beyond the berm. I was trailing Lt. Francis as we approached the dirt berm, when we came under small-arms fire from our direct front. I continued to follow Lieutenant Francis, when out of the corner of my left eye, I noticed two of our Marines ten to fifteen yards behind us. At that point, I stopped and yelled for them to come-up on line, when our Radioman passed me and started following the Lieutenant. As I turned back towards the dirt berm, I heard a Large EXPLOSION, then saw a cloud of Dust with several Marines screaming in pain. Our Radioman had just stepped on a anti-personnel Mine(a Bouncing Betty), Killing him instantly, seriously wounding our 3.5 anti-tank(Rockets) Marine (hand and crotch) plus several others in the platoon. Our Corpsman, did an outstanding Job that day keeping individuals alive and calm.

TO THIS DAY, I have wondered WHY our Radioman made the Ultimate Sacrifice for our Beloved Corps, and I was left Unscathed. UN-Scathed in Body, but not in mind. This operation, “BEACON POINT”, in which “Charley” Company conducted down the infamous “STREET  WITHOUT JOY” will stay with ME personally till my last breath on this earth.

(Sgt Percy Avalos, 1st Platoon, C/1/3)

Submitted by: Bill Bratton H&S-1-3
Email:
twbratton@comcast.net
Date:
3/26/06

May 22 1969

I love your site or, as I should say, our site. I am so proud to have been a part of this historic outfit just as I am extremely proud to be a part of the Corps. I was serving with H&S 1/3 on LZ Kevin near the DMZ on May 22, 1969 when Cpl. Paul Edward Speaks was killed by a direct hit from the incoming we were taking from across the “D”. He was in a hole about six feet from my hole. We were already packed up to leave that morning and the choppers were actually going to come out and get us. We waited but they didn’t come. Someone said the General and his entourage had to go to the PX so the choppers were tied up. Some more of the sick humor we all shared. While we waited, with most or our gear packed and ready, the NVA “seized the moment” and began shelling us with mortars, rockets and artillery from across the D. This went on for a couple of hours and it seemed more like a couple of days. When the round hit in the hole next to me, I knew there was little or no chance of either of the guys surviving. I still jumped up and went over and there was nothing but blackened skin and tattered clothes left. When we tried to get them out of the hole to take up to the LZ for later extraction, I grabbed the arms and someone else grabbed the legs. When we started to lift, the limbs began to tear loose from the torso. We jumped down in the hole and carefully lifted them out and onto a poncho. We carried them both up to the LZ. The rounds were still coming in all the time we were doing this. When I got back to my hole, my hole had taken a direct hit also. My pack, rifle and all my belongings were torn to pieces. I lost all my pictures, letters and other personal effects. I still had my life and, for that, I am thankful. In the truest sense of the word, my life was spared by the sacrifice of others.

The reason I am sending this is to let you know that, although you have Cpl. Speaks on this web site, PFC John Ralford Jackson, who was killed at the same instant in the same hole, is not on this site. I know you must verify this before you put it on the site but this information is available on several web sites reporting the KIA on this day. I also found the information on your site under the “No Quarter” icon. I have copied and pasted the info below. If you could confirm this info, it would be an honor to us all to have PFC Jackson included in the list of 1/3 Marines. Thank you for all you do. Welcome Home!

Submitted by: Bill Ervin D-1-3
Email:
hatch101@comcast.net
Date:
3/26/06

May 22 1969

When I received the letter above from Bill Bratton, I had a few shivers run through me. I was also on that hill on May 22. I was a machine gunner with Delta Company 2nd platoon. Though I had not been in country very long, I was carrying the M-60 early in my tour because I was the only man in the squad who was actually trained as an 0331 and because the machine gun section had recently taken heavy losses. Delta Company had been having a rough month all through May. It began on May 1 when the company was caught in an ambush and we were getting hit on a regular basis throughout the Month. Mutter’s Ridge was known to be a bad place. Located just below the DMZ and about 7 miles west of Con Thien, the hilly terrain had a reputation of being a stronghold for NVA troops moving down from the North.

When Delta Company moved on to LZ Kevin, the hill was pitted with gaping craters from a recent B-52 drop. There were NVA bodies scattered over the hillside and the place stunk of death. We all knew this was a bad place and everyone dug in deep. This was one of the few times in the field when I can remember stringing concertina wire and tangle-foot around a position that we were not going to occupy for long. Everyone was busy making our lines as strong as we could and there were few complaints about it.

On the night of May 21, I was sent out on ambush with a squad from 2nd platoon. We found a good spot in some thick brush down by the stream that wound through the valley about a klick from the Company position. There were about ten of us on this ambush and we were all edgy. None of us got much sleep that night even though it passed without incident.

Just before dawn, the leader of our party passed word for us to saddle up and get ready to head back to the perimeter. We were about half way up the hillside when we heard the first pop of a distant mortar tube. A few seconds later, we saw the gray smoke from the impact inside the company lines. A few moments later, the hillside began to erupt with explosions. Since the side of the hill was completely barren due to the B-52 drop, there was not much cover for those of us trying to make our way back to the company lines. We scrambled to the perimeter and had to weave our way through the barbed wire that we had so diligently strung just the day before, all the time dropping to the ground whenever we heard the sound of rounds being fired from the distance. Finally inside the wire, we dashed for the safety of the first fighting holes we could find.

I eventually made it back to the rest of my gun team that had not gone on the ambush. They were all standing in their holes, listening for the next volley to be fired then hunkering down as the incoming screamed in on us. We had taken incoming before but normally, we would only get a couple of rounds and it would stop. This morning it never stopped. We continued to receive fire until past 10:00 and the word came around to pack our gear and get ready to pull off the hill. One man would run out and gather his gear while the rest of us listened for tube pops. After nearly an hour of this, we were packed and ready for the word to move out. Finally, the word came around and we joined the string of Marines hastily heading off the hill. We moved quickly down the hill and up another that was over a klick away. Setting up a hasty defense, we waited in the hot sun for another two hours before the choppers came in to lift us out to Con Thein.

We lost four Marines that day. All of them to incoming. The after action reports show that we received more than three hundred heavy mortar and artillery rounds that morning. It was also said that a force of approximately 400-500 NVA were seen closing in on our position as we moved off the hill.